Before the season, under Head Coach Stefan Leger, the Knights women’s volleyball team had never won more than four games in a season. But, from right from the first practice, Coach Leger could tell this 2022 roster was different. “This year was different from previous years mentally. From the first practice in preseason, the athletes showed a determination and competitiveness that seemed to be higher than years past. The amount of effort the team demanded of itself was evident throughout the season and was a major factor to our success,” Coach stated.
Not only did this team end a 14-year playoff drought, but they also had three members earn All-Conference Honors, something that hasn’t happened since 2008. One of these players was Captain Ryann Frontera who earned the ECC Libero of the Year and was a member of the All-Conference First-Team as a freshman.
“I feel honored to be able to play with such a talented group of girls. It is not easy changing the other conference teams’ assumptions about the previous Queens College teams. With hard work and coming together as a family, it feels so exhilarating to be in the position we are in now,” said Frontera when asked about what it felt like to be a part of this resilient Queens College team that ended the playoff drought.
Don’t get it twisted, while this team may be young, it didn’t hold them back one bit. “Even though there is a lot of youth in the team, the talent and experience levels are high. With the large number of incomers, once we were able to come together as a unit, it was easy to let their natural abilities shine through,” said Coach Leger when asked about what impact the large number of incomers had on this season.
The newcomers and returners didn’t waste any time getting to know each other either. “The chemistry was exuberant and full, with friendships made off the court. Everyone getting to know each other and planning outside events outside practice time really helped establish and enhance the chemistry of our team. I would say the key was just having fun and spending time with each other outside of volleyball,” said Captain Lelia Hadjeb.
However, what makes this season even more impressive is the fact there was a lot of adversity to overcome along the way. According to Captain Anjeline Arnakis, there were many ‘bumps in the road.’ However, the team used these bumps to make themselves stronger. “…when things got rough everyone pushed to work through it whether it was a team issue or issues on an individual level to maintain a positive team environment and [make it an] enjoyable place to be,” said Arnakis. She also created a mid-season questionnaire to get everyone on the same page when there were some negative vibes coming from the locker room earlier in the season.
If you thought the Knights were content with only making the playoffs, you’re largely mistaken. “Potential. We are just getting started and we are only going to get better. Not a lot of people are leaving. Next year is our year.” said Captain Kendall Conrad.
“The expectations for next season are the same as they were this season. We must improve and take the next step to winning an ECC Championship.” said Coach Stefan Leger.. Expect this talented Knights team to work even harder heading into next season as part of their quest to capture the second ECC Title in program history, with the sole trophy coming from the 2003 season.
Coach Leger didn’t have a single senior on his roster this season, so in theory, the entire roster can return with this spectacular season now in the past. With nine out of seventeen players being freshmen, the sky’s the limit for the Knights when improvement inevitably comes. This is especially true considering Frontera is a freshman and Christina Franco, ECC All-Conference Honorable Mention, is a sophomore. Alexis Deodat, ECC Second-Team Honoree, has one more year of eligibility left.
There were many ups & downs the 2022 Knights women’s volleyball team faced, but in the end, the team got through it together due to their constant determination and brought back the kind of volleyball we haven’t seen from this program since the early 2000s. Having one year together as a unit under their belt will pay dividends down the line, as this team will be one to watch out for next year.